Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s disturbing record on racial issues would put the Voting Rights Act in further jeopardy if he were to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, argues Marjorie Cohn.
By Marjorie Cohn
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record on racial issues and his answers to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings have raised red flags about how he would rule on voting rights if confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
During his hearing, Kavanaugh bragged about hiring people of color as law clerks and said he decried the use of the “n” word. But when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked him whether he agreed with President Donald Trump that there was blame on both sides during the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally, Kavanaugh refused to say “no.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) queried Kavanaugh about an amicus brief he co-authored with Robert Bork in a 1999 case in which they argued it was unconstitutional to prevent non-Native Hawaiians from voting for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a public agency set up in 1978 to defend the rights of Native Hawaiians..
Hirono said Kavanaugh’s views on Native Hawaiians are “factually wrong” and incredibly offensive. Hirono told the nominee: “I think you have a problem here. Your view is that Hawaiians don’t deserve protections as Indigenous people under the Constitution and your argument raises a serious question on how you would vote on the constitutionality of programs benefiting Alaska natives. I think that my colleagues from Alaska should be deeply troubled by your views.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kavanaugh called the program “Hawaii’s naked racial spoils system.” Harris asked Kavanaugh whether he knew that “racial spoils system” is commonly used by white supremacists. Kavanaugh said he didn’t.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) confronted Kavanaugh about another racist expression he had used, this time while working in the George W. Bush administration. Booker queried the nominee about his characterization of an affirmative action program as “a naked racial set-aside.” Kavanaugh had used the phrase in an…